The potential and possibility to build an organization for the greater good in my community..
I’m really grateful for being able to see ideas become realities – especially ones that can be of service to and help others. Not sure if I’ve shared this before, but in starting the organization ‘Run the Last Mile,’ I had always hoped the business could be turned into a non-profit down the road. I would’ve set it up like that initially had I had more time, however it was started on the fly in the middle of planning a 5k back in April. So I have hopes that it can grow into a mentoring non-profit organization in the future.
The goal would be to work with at-risk youth by sharing how running can be a great coping mechanism for dealing with life’s problems, and an outlet for dealing with stressors/emotional processing. Who knows what an organization like this could have done to help me as a teenager. It might have been what I needed to live the rest of my life free of drug use, alcohol abuse, multiple suicide attempts, or coping better with depression and anxiety. I’ll never know for myself, but I hope that is what it could be for another. The movie ‘RxRun’ helped clarify what the organization might look like logistically, giving more form to the vision. (https://runningmagazine.ca/bloggers/one-documentary-explores-benefits-running-struggling-mental-health/). I’m still going to school for social work, and it’s a big undertaking for me, so I’m doing it little by little when I can.
The name ‘Run the Last Mile’ always had an idea behind it of working with primarily new or beginner-level runners. That’s the only experience I’ve had to go off of personally, and I’ve always believed that it is best to work within what I know first-hand. For a lot of beginning runners, just running 1 mile may seem to be a big enough challenge, let alone running the last one in a race. So it is kind of like a goal to at least run the last one, even if the rest of a race (or workout or what have you) has run/walk pace.
Along with giving your all at something – right up until the end. It’s specific in that it’s not a “go above and beyond” or “give 110%” – but that running the last mile really is that – not saying give me a mile but really meaning or turning into a mile and a half or something. It’s about just focusing on running that last mile. Even at the start of a race – what does the last mile look like? If you do what is required – running that last mile is all you will need to do to reach the goal, and perhaps if run well enough, all you will be capable of giving at the time. So it is about doing well what is required and doing a good enough job at that. Of course keeping in mind to be prepared for the unexpected, but being honest about what is required and what one can expect to give. My mentor told me something about how when we are put in a situation, we never know what we are capable of. But it still comes down to a mile being a mile. Or something. I really to do more work with clarifying this part of it.
I think a lot of people dealing with depression, or anxiety or whatnot, just struggle with doing the minimum and getting through the day, let alone the pressure to exceed “beyond 100 %” – so it is also keeping that in mind. Maybe it’s just me – but there is this mirage and almost impossible idea about giving 110% at things all the time to be competitive or succeed. What does giving 110% even mean/look like and when did that become a good thing to strive for? Doesn’t that just lead to burn-out down the line? Aren’t we burning through resources at a massive rate if we are expecting, taking, or giving 110% or ‘above and beyond’ what is expected all the time? Is that not the methodology behind greed? I think giving it my best, or my all is a good enough goal. Most of the time for me, just giving what I can that day, or that hour, etc. is the reality I work within, although it is always the best I can do.
Anyways, that is some of the background and what I hope this organization can grow into. There’s a lot still to learn, and so much work to do. I’m certainly not there yet or even close to where I hope my last mile could or should be. Room for improvement is a good thing, and I believe in always striving to do better than yesterday, whenever possible. I’m really grateful for the hope to see this through and I pray for the strength within to do so. For others to get involved if they feel moved or called to. I pray for God to guide the vision and bring into alignment the pieces that need to come together for this to grow into what it could be. I pray and hope it is a good thing for others and helps the community. And I thank God for the chance to try at this. I’m incredibly grateful for the mentor in my life who helped ignite the idea for this whole thing to even come into existence, and for everyone who has already helped so much with everything.
As we are at the halfway point through the year, and it has been a few months to let all the details of the Superhero Hop 5k and Kids Run settle down, it is time to publish the race report. It’s not very exciting reading, but if anyone is invested in the race and wants to know more about what all went into the planning and execution of it, as well as the aftermath, this is for you. Any personal and sensitive data for use in planning next year’s event has been omitted.
I hope those who participated, volunteered, sponsored, donated and were otherwise involved had a great experience and will consider being involved again at next year’s race. The improvements planned will hopefully make the experience an even better one for you than this year. As always, any suggestions or comments are welcome to continue improving and making the event the best it can be. In the end, the race belongs to everyone involved and input is much appreciated. Thanks again to everyone who has helped make this dream a reality, especially those who were part of the event, and for those who took a leap of faith and registered for a first year event! Have a great summer y’all and hope to see you next year!
NOTE: We were able to donate a total of $1,200.00 to Prevent Child Abuse Utah! Great work everyone!!!
Superhero Hop 5k and Kids Run
A fundraiser to benefit Prevent Child Abuse Utah
April 20, 2019
With the race benefiting the charity, and in the instance
that Run the Last Mile was not able to sponsor the race next year for any
reason, the primary goal of this report is to be able to hand over all the
information to the charity so they would be able to continue the race if they
so choose. They could also learn from the mistakes I had made. The secondary
goal is to inform those invested in the race if anyone were interested, what
went into it, what the result was, and improvements recommended for the next
The idea to do a 5k to benefit Prevent Child Abuse Utah came
back in 2012 when volunteering for the organization. I saw that other states
had done 5k fundraisers for PCA, however this had not been done in Utah. I
asked the organization why they had not done this yet, and they said there were
some initial talks at the organization of putting one together, but nothing
solidified. I imagine that this was due to the organization having a lot on
their plates already, as well as already having other fundraising events that
they put on throughout the year to attend to.
I shelved the idea in my mind. After going to work for the state for DCFS, and attending all the training there, I couldn’t learn about all that and not do something to help “put my drop in the bucket.” It took a lot of years before it has happened, with just the idea growing. Primarily, I had envisioned the race taking place around Gib’s loop, a trail by Mt. Ogden Park, with the finish line at the park near the pavilion on the south side, a blue and white balloon arch for the finish line, and pinwheels in the ground marking the finish “chute.” This was really the only solid piece of the vision, aside from it taking place in April during the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign.
Having never put a race together before, and only running in a handful of them. I sought to research how to do so online. My experience putting together fundraisers for an organization I am involved with served as a foundation to work from. In my mind, it was also like a project one would do for school, and as such, a learning experience.
As I did not have a team of people to work with, I reached out to fellow students in the social work department to find others who might be interested in working on this project with me. With little interest from anyone else, I reached out to friends in my community to begin putting the pieces together. I’ll just be open about it that the “contracting” of services was biased, as in I did not price out different vendors, compare prices, etc. I went with friends who I knew I could rely on, and this became my “team.” With some key pieces in place (Amir Jackson & Amber Manning for DJ and emcees, Holly Morphet for the race logo, and Cameron Lloyd for the t-shirts), I had a foundation to build from. As the race was to benefit Prevent Child Abuse Utah, the idea was to do the leg work and they receive the funds as a fundraiser. Prevent Child Abuse Utah did not seek me out to do this work for them, nor were they involved with the planning, aside from being supportive of the goal of the race and willing to help with what they could.
When looking at the date, the idea was to do the race in April during the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign that already takes place every year. This is when other states held their race events for the Prevent Child Abuse organizations in their states, as the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign is nation-wide. Amir Jackson and Amber Manning were the first ones I had sought to work with as DJ’s, so we picked a weekend that worked for them and also didn’t have any conflicting races already scheduled in the Ogden area. With so many theme races for holidays (Turkey trots, Santa runs, Halloween races, etc.), having it on Easter weekend also provided an opportunity for a holiday themed race, since it seems some runners enjoy these (myself included!).
The four different venues that were considered
Mount Ogden Park – with the Gib’s loop trail. In speaking with the Parks and Rec department, I had to first go through the city permitting with their special events coordinator. The race taking place in April would put it coinciding at the same time of AYSO soccer season, and therefore the park was not looking like a viable option.
Ogden High School track – with a course along the streets, and the start and finish in the track area. After initial email communications with the athletic director did not pan out, other venues were considered. In the future, it might be possible to communicate with the principle or the school district, however this was not attempted this time.
Lion’s Club Park – with the course taking place on a similar route to the Ogden High School track one that was drafted out. However, this would require portable toilets as the time of the race would have been in the off-season for parks and therefore the park’s restrooms would be locked still. This would have been an extra expense in addition to the cost of city permitting.
Weber State University – with the course on one of the routes they had already planned, due to having already hosted a number of races on the campus. This began to look like the best option as a number of things were already in place, and the possibility to use the campus facilities such as bathrooms, would potentially be the most cost effective.
Out of the four, Weber State was ultimately the best option
for moving forward.
Primary – to
benefit the organization, Prevent Child Abuse Utah and raise awareness about
Preventing Child Abuse.
Secondary – to
work within the local economy as much as possible and build community.
Business – Run the Last Mile
As payments were coming in through the registration page, and purchases were being made, the formality of establishing a business seemed like a good idea for accountability. This took place as quickly as possible, and therefore was not licensed as a non-profit organization with such little time. This has benefits (decisions can be made more quickly, losses can be written off, etc.), however, the business principles and practices would strive to serve as any non-profit type of charitable organization would. Creating a business was ultimately necessary for the credibility of requesting donations and sponsors, many of which required such requests to be on official letterhead. Having no real experience running a business, I relied upon past experiences working for other employers and small businesses.
With this being a fundraiser put together to benefit a
charity, by a brand-new business with no real working capital to start with,
requesting donations seemed appropriate to keep costs as low as possible. This
also seemed like a natural course of action due to how past fundraisers had operated,
or what other races seemed to be doing. In retrospect, the primary model I had
based this race off of was the Nature Center’s Fly with the Flock 5k fun run,
which was put on by the non-profit organization directly (as far as I’m aware).
So I’m not sure how that works with a business that is not a non-profit
requesting donations. I don’t believe there is anything explicitly prohibiting this
action, and the donations were ultimately given away to the runners as prizes.
The businesses who donated were aware if the purpose for the donations and were
recognized, so it provided free advertising for them.
In requesting the donations, the goal was to give these out
as the finish awards for the different age group category winners, as well as
the overall race winners. This is what the letter said they were for, and this
was the intention. With the race day approaching, and not enough awards
collected for all the winners, as well as having varying dollar amounts that
were not neatly categorized into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
place, the options I saw were purchase gift cards and figure out how to somehow
make the dollar amounts fair somehow, or just raffle off the items and then
come up with different awards. We ended up doing the latter.
A call for volunteers was posted and shared early on
Facebook, however this received no replies.
Volunteer recruitment was also communicated on the race registration
website. This also received no replies except through the OMS sponsoring
organization. Ultimately, I relied upon an organization I am involved with to
help with the majority of the volunteer work, which they did in a pinch,
Facebook provided the biggest return on investment for advertising statistically, as far as the registration website reported.
Posters displayed in community locations may have generated registrations, however I did not set up a way to track this, so I am unaware of results from this method of advertising.
I did submit the event info to the GO! section of the
Standard Examiner newspaper, although I’m not sure if it got printed or not.
There was no packet pickup planned but since Striders offered, we went ahead and held them there. In the future, Utah Running Shop also communicated they could host packet pickups. Note for future to be more prepared (safety pins bundled into groups of 4) and organized in advance (one idea – use manila envelopes to hold race info, bib, and swag bag items, then alphabetize in file boxes). There is also the idea to hold a raffle.
Race day recap
What went well
T-shirts: Holly and Cameron
Mailing out awards – in the future only to those
who left early. I’ve placed in races before and have had to leave before the
awards were given out and therefore never received them. I believe it is fair
practice to mail out the awards and make sure they get to those who earned
Awards not given day of
PCAU – involve in planning, say piece about mission before race starts
Race director – experience; put aside being shy/uncomfortable speaking in front of crowds & say something at start of race – especially course info!
Post race survey
A brief survey was emailed to all race participants and received eight responses. Responses were reviewed and compiled in order to make improvements for next year.
Improvements and ideas for next year
Involve Nurture the Creative Mind and other
Family Support Center – kid’s activities
Christmas Box House drawings specific for race
need advance notice
Participant medals VS awards
Donations as raffle items vs awards
(If awards, how to make equal with varying
dollar values? Need earlier start to get enough for all age category awards, or
limit age category awards?)
Candy for kid’s awards? Picture frames for awards? Work with photographer to have pictures available to mail out and put in frames?
Capes/masks? (Like Santa run)
Give out participant medals (or pins or frames or whatever end up using) as runners cross the finish line.
Virtual race option?
Gift bags for sponsors?
Recruit WSU or high school track team members to volunteer/help with finish line – timing
Improve finish line decorations
Make clear that participants can take pinwheels home that were used as course markings
Runsignup VS Raceentry registration website (Raceentry is local, Runsign up can carry over data from this year)
WSU social work department or the like – recruit support in the form of student volunteers to help with planning and getting donations and sponsors
Day of registration?
Recognition for returning runners
Overall, planning and executing this race was a big
challenge that set a foundation to build from for the future. I have hope that
Prevent Child Abuse Utah can learn from the mistakes I have made if they take
on the race themselves next year, if they decided to continue such. The most
challenging aspects of planning were estimating numbers of t-shirts, medals,
pins, and food to order as the race registration was open up until the night
before the race. Some races have day of registration, and I’m not sure how they
plan for this, as having extras adds up monetarily. I’m part of a Facebook
group for race directors that has a ton of information and advice about these
types of issues to help learn best practices moving forward.
The event did not raise as money as I had hoped, but as a first event, it is a good start and can only get better each year. In planning the race, I looked to the Ogden Nature Center’s annual Fly with the Flock race as a primary example to follow. However, there are certainly other good races out there to gather ideas from. I’ve run the ONC race two years in a row now and I can say that they do a very good job at it. From what I know about runners, they can be very loyal to races they like. With the Nature Center 5k, that was the first 5k I ever completed, and I’ll go back every year to do that race. They even do recognition for runners who have come back yearly (I’m not sure on the exact, but something like 5 years, 10 years, etc.).
If a runner has a good experience, they are likely to return the next year. It seemed a bit much to have a DJ and all that for a first-year event. The costs for t-shirts and participant memorabilia was also a bit much. This was not to set a precedent necessarily, but to create a fun event from the start that people would want to come back to. It is my hope that there will be a good amount of return runners, and I believe the next year’s participants can grow to at least 300, although the stretch goal would then be 500. This year’s stretch goal was set at 300 and we reached just over 100.
There is still a lot to learn, however some of the first mistakes from this year were hopefully fruitful. We didn’t have to deal with weather thankfully, but this would be a good thing to prepare for in advance for the future. Weather-proofing a race often adds more expenses so this should be factored in. Overall, it’s good to know that even if you plan everything out to the very smallest detail, there will always be something that does not go as planned. Live, learn and laugh because even as stressful as it is, there is still a lot of good that can come from it, and there’s always an opportunity to improve. For the most part, I have found runners are understanding that everyone is doing their best to make the event the best it can be for them.
At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets.
Starting a new business is not for the
feint of heart. Although, it does require a whole heart full of passion
and drive. Run the Last Mile is born out of this kind of love and it
just grows deeper every day. It is a love relationship with running and
staying active, with giving back to my community, with working along
side others for the greater good, and with becoming who my creator
designed me to be. It’s about determination and not giving up, even when
it gets hard. It’s about commitment, staying the course, and following
through. It is about giving one’s best effort even when fatigued. And
it’s about discipline, perseverance, motivation, dedication, resilience
and grit. It’s about finishing strong and letting others know that even
if you have stumbled for 99 miles, you’re going to run this last one to
the finish and end on a positive note.
I have had a tendency in the past to start a bunch of projects then
get distracted and not end up finishing hardly any of them. It doesn’t
help that I’m an expansive thinker and big dreamer. I believe that
dreams are placed in our hearts for a reason, however. We are on this
earth to build and give back, and hopefully leave things a little better
than we found them. My goal with this business is to build upon a
foundation of service work, community building, and faith. Then to take
all that passion and stay the course with it and follow through. That’s
what running the last mile means to me. That at the end of the day, I
did everything I could do to move forward in a positive way that
benefits others and makes the world a better place.
The wonderful thing about just diving into an endeavor such as this
is that there is no set course and plenty of room for ideas to take
shape about what it could be. The thought to turn it into a non-profit
organization is strongly there, it just seems really complicated and I
know nothing about the process. When I think about what Run the Last
Mile as a non-profit might look like, and how it might serve the
community, the mentoring model comes to mind. I’ve had a heart for
helping at-risk youth since way back when I was one myself. In fact,
much of this business effort is the result of a mentor relationship. A
person who believed in me, and in staying active, who shared a tiny
piece of his life as a runner with me. I had been struggling and he
helped me turn my life around and it really is just as simple as that.
But that simple thing sparked something greater (often intangible), and
the best way I can keep that spark alive is to share it with others.
What if someone could do for another what this person did for me. What
if I could help someone like he had helped me? What if a whole team of
people could work towards this goal of making a positive difference?
What kind of impact in our community could that have?
There are plenty of mentoring organizations out there already though,
how would Run the Last Mile fill in any gaps or be different? I’m
thinking about those youth who are not involved in sports and then maybe
pair them with a seasoned runner to learn the sport and see if anything
positive develops. Sports are such a great outlet for emotional
processing that often comes with being a young person in an ‘at-risk’
situation. Not to mention how sports and the many positive qualities
that result from participating in them serve as preventative medicine
and positive coping models for so many challenges later in life. Not
every kid is going to have the means to join a team, or for whatever
reason not get involved in organized sports. What if there were a way to
get those kids involved through a different avenue?
In my own life, I have never been athletically skilled (and therefore
motivated) to try out and make any formal teams. If I’m honest, I never
really saw the benefits that doing so would bring. In my family, sports
were not something valued much and there was no history of anyone being
very athletic. For me, it was a recreational pursuit at best, in the
form of youth and club teams. But I do know that in my life as a
recreational athlete, even on a club team with the right coach this can
have a very positive impact in one’s life. It has in mine. I’m certainly
not in any position to be that coach for this endeavor (I’m new to
running and truly know very little about it). However, the idea is
there, and if the right people are interested, I’m here and committed to
seeing the project through. It would be specifically geared towards
sharing the joy of running, since that is the original spark of the
sports mentor model that I’m driven to share, pass on, and keep alive.
Those are some of my thoughts and vision for Run the Last Mile if it were to take a turn into the non-profit world in the future. For me, as a business model a non-profit just makes a whole lot more sense in my life, my heart, and what I have to offer. The only thing is just learning how to build one and I know there are plenty of resources out there to do so. It starts with an idea though, and putting yourself out there. So here it is, a tiny little seed. Who knows what could come of it? Hopefully good and positive things. Ok, enough dreaming, back to race organization work. Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!